Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wellness the Right Way

This isn't new news for those of us who got interested in health care costs and wellness programs many years ago. A journal article shows that, on average, wellness programs cost us 22%--or in other words, we recover 78% of the program costs, but not 100%. It's not break-even. We knew that programs weren't going to cut it. We knew that incentives alone weren't going to cut it. The Affordable Care Act won't save us either.  We knew that we need to change our organizational culture such that it was evident that management and peers cared about the whole person. Many times habit changes take peer pressure. If you only use health assessments and insurance discounts or price penalties to create movement, your insurance costs will continue to skyrocket because your group is still utilizing the health care system. As we all age--i.e. our average age increases--those costs will go up as our bodies age and break down. Therefore, the only help we have is if we all work to utilize the health care system less--not just hospitals, ER's but also prescriptions, outpatient services and clinics.

Utilizing the health care system less means we're responsible for maintaining our health as long as humanly possible. As Dee Edington encouraged us for more than five years, we shoot for no increase in risk factors and only hope for a reduction in risk factors. If we don't make this a group effort, then our ROI will be low or negative. Organizations that get it right are seeing better ROI's on their efforts--yes, I refuse to call them programs.

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